What to expect

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a beautiful but challenging day hike. Make sure you are prepared!

Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Time: 7 hours - 8 hours (depending on your fitness level)
Distance: 19.4 km

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a challenging one-day hike covering a distance of 19.4 km one way.

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing stretches from the Mangatepopo Valley to the saddle between Tongariro and Ngauruhoe Mountains. It climbs to Red Crater (1886m), then drops down to the vivid Emerald Lakes.

After passing the Green and Blue lakes, the track traverses the northern slope of Mount Tongariro, then descends in a zigzag to the Ketetahi Hut. For more detailed information, visit the Department of Conservation website.

You can walk the track in either direction - but normally you start at Mangatepopo, as the altitude (1120 m) is higher than at Ketetahi (760 m) so there is less climbing involved.

Getting there

Shuttle bus or transfer

You can organise a shuttle bus to pick you up from your accomodation in Taupo or Turangi and drop you home at the end of the day. Find out more about transport operators here.

Guided trips

You can arrange a guide to hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing with you. This is a great way to ensure you stay safe throughout your hiking experience. It is also an excellent way to learn more about the history and legends of the Tongariro National Park. 

If you are planning to take on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in winter conditions, we strongly recommend you walk with a guide for your own safety. Find out more about guides here.

Driving yourself

From October 2017 to April 2018, no parking will be available at the start of the track. We recommend you park in either Taupo or Turangi and organise shuttle transport to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing


The weather on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is extremely unpredictable. It can change from warm and sunny to cold and windy in a few minutes. Make sure you are prepared. Bring warm layers of clothing, hats, gloves and scarves and water-proof coats and trousers.

If shuttle buses or guides are not operating due to bad weather, please do not attempt the Tongariro Alpine Crossing yourself. For the latest weather and track information contact the Taupo iSITE or the Turangi iSITE.


The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a challenging hike which covers 19.4km over various altitudes. It can take between seven and eight hours. If you aren't very fit allow yourself more time to complete the hike.

Make sure to arrange transport to and from the track with one of the shuttle operators or go along with a guide. Find out more about guides and transport here. You should also book to stay in nearby accommodation in Turangi or Taupo.  

If you can, it is worth building up your fitness level with training before you hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. You will enjoy the day more!

What to bring

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a strenuous climb. Make sure that you have plenty of food, water and clothing to suit all weather conditions.

  • High energy food
  • Water (Make sure to bring plenty of water with you - there is no clean drinking water available along the route.)
  • Strong sturdy boots (you will be trekking on uneven volcanic terrain)
  • Warm woolen, fleece or polypropylene clothing
  • Waterproof jacket and trousers
  • Gloves and hat
  • Sunblock and sunglasses
  • Personal first aid kit
  • Map and compass 
  • Head torch
  • Two mobile phones with different network providers in case of emergency

If you are planning on hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in winter we strongly recommend you hike with an experienced guide. Find out more about hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in winter here.

Toilet facilities

There are long-drop toilet facilities available on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Please respect the cultural and environmental significance of this area and use these toilet facilities.


The Tongariro Alpine Crossing spans two active volcanoes. The last eruption was in 2012 and caused significent damage. The weather can change quickly on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Visit the Department of Conservation website for more information on how to prepare and stay safe during your hike.

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